“Investigation launched after reported £100,000 break-in at storage facility just feet away from Preston's main police station.” Lancashire Post website on 16 June 2022 (view the full article here).
Described by police as ‘Brazen Thieves’, the incident on 09 June 2022 resulted in 4 self storage units being targeted, with one business owner losing approximately £100,000 worth of goods in total whilst being insured for only £5,000.
When you decided on an appropriate storage facility to store your personal or business goods, you assume that the environment will be safe and secure. However, as discerning as most storage facility providers are when it comes to theft, there will always be extreme situations and random acts which disrupt the equilibrium.
Recent events such as COVID, Brexit and rising demand in the housing market has meant that over the past few years the need for self storage has increased and, with more of us needing extra space, there are new facilities on a regular basis opening up to satisfy this demand. If you currently use a storage unit or are considering it in the future then it is essential to regularly monitor and review the security measures in place at your chosen site.
There are a few simple, quick and easy risk assessments you can perform yourself in order to assess the level of security of your chosen facility.
- Have a look around - A simple visual check will enable you to see how easy the area is to access. Imagine how things might look at night and whether it is likely that someone could access your unit unseen. If it is an external site is there a secure perimeter fence and is it high enough to deter potential thieves?
- Ask the provider - The storage provider is your best asset in this situation and although you may not feel comfortable asking how many thefts they have experienced (if any!) there are some alternative questions which will help to weigh up the risks. Speak to the provider and ask what security measures they have put in place - Are there security cameras? Where are they located? Is the perimeter also protected by CCTV cameras and video surveillance? Is there an alarm system?
- Supervised units - Some units are now classed as ‘supervised’ with staff at the facility to assist and monitor daily comings and goings. Finding out when the facility is staffed and if not a 24 hour site, how access is managed out-of-hours? Does the provider employ security staff for patrols? The presence of a security guard and the link between lower crime rates was researched in the transport sector and a report was published in 2021 that concluded the following: “41% more patrol visits and 29% more minutes spent by security agents at treatment compared to control stations led to a significant 16% reduction in victim-generated crimes at the entirety of the stations’ complexes.” View the original report here.
Get a sturdy lock
Aside from any on-site security at the storage facility, there are measures you can take yourself to ensure that your possessions remain as safe as possible. If your unit does not have PIN code access then investing in a sturdy lock for your unit is a must. Don’t assume that all locks are the same - take some time to research what’s available as there are many different options:
- Combination locks - Convenient as they are, industry insiders believe these to be one of the easiest padlocks to crack to a determined thief so unfortunately it’s a no from us.
- Keyed padlock - Engineered to prevent cutting or breaking and difficult to pick, there are many different types of keyed padlocks on the market. Go for the best that you can find by researching and reading user reviews.
- Disc Locks - Originally designed to secure storage units, these locks are built to purposely be difficult to cut due to the circular design. They are more often cheaper than a heavy duty padlock.
- Electronic Locks - You can now purchase Bluetooth smart locks which are locked and unlocked through a smartphone app. These apps can even provide real-time data of the lock so you can check in remotely at any time - however just remember to charge your phone!
Once you have satisfied yourself that the storage facility you have chosen is as secure as possible, you also need to assess the storage unit itself. If you have chosen an external metal storage container in the UK, you can be certain that it is going to experience a whole range of weather. Fortunately there are some steps you can take to ensure your items are protected:
- Ensure that the unit is well sealed - A simple visual assessment is often all that you need, check the inside of the unit for signs of moisture ingress or previous leaks. Do the doors fit and seal well? Does the container look to be in good condition without rust or damage on the exterior?
- Use the right storage for your goods - For items sensitive to temperature changes and prone to rust or mildew we would not recommend storing items in an external storage container, especially during Autumn and Winter. For more advice on different storage types and what they are most suitable for see our Quick Guide: Self Storage Types blog post.
- Appropriately pack your items - Ensuring that you have packed your items properly will help keep any damage at bay. If you are packing anything that can be prone to mildew (i.e books, clothes) using plastic sealable air-tight containers is a must. If you are using cardboard boxes, investing in good quality sturdy ones will help keep your contents safe and secure both in the unit and in transport to and from the unit.
The power of the list
We know it’s boring and takes time, but we cannot stress this enough. Making a list of your items in storage beforehand will not only help you to remember what you stored (believe us you will soon forget!), it will also help to gain an accurate valuation for Store Insure to provide correct cover. Remember the Lancashire business owner from the beginning of this blog article, who realised after the storage facility break-in that they were not adequately insured? Well, making a list will enable you to check that you have not under-valued anything and can provide incredibly useful in the event of a claim.
You guessed it… Insurance!
So, you’ve followed all the advice mentioned here, chosen a secure and well-managed storage facility and have taken care packing and protecting your possessions from damage, what more can you do?
Unfortunately, rare as they may be, there are still some events that fall completely outside of anyone’s control like theft, fire and flooding so ensuring you have adequate storage insurance is the last (but no means least) step to securing and protecting your goods.
Your home contents insurance will not cover your goods away from home long-term (mainly, only for transportation) and the storage facility insurance will not cover your possessions under their own policy. Storage Insurance is designed to cover your possessions against known risks involved in self storage and is specific to stored goods. using Store Insure will add the final level of protection should the worst happen, our standard policies now come with zero excess on claims and you can take out cover from 1 month to 18 months and from as little as £1,000 to £100,000.
For more information on our policy – have a look at the Cover Section on our website or alternatively for instant access and cover visit our Get a Quote section.